We Still Don’t Know Why Obama Wants Deal with Iran

obama_iran_crossed_fingers_4-20-14-1 (1)PJ Media, By Michael Ledeen On February 3, 2015:

The past few days have produced at least three excellent articles on Obama’s secret agreements, or would-be agreements, with Iran. At the Daily Beast,Michael Weiss and Michael Pregent put it in the framework of the fight against ISIS [1], explaining how our constant catering to Iran’s desires makes it virtually impossible for us to defeat the Islamic State.  Mosaic’s Michael Doran lays out the history [2] of Obama’s Iran dealings (still mostly secret, including the details of the currently-operative interim agreement), which, as Doran puts it, has resulted in the Iranians having “bested the most powerful country on earth on their terms.”  Finally, there’s Jeffrey Goldberg’s musings at the Atlantic, which more or less conclude that, while Obama hopes to strike a deal with Iran that will both end its pursuit of nuclear weapons and moderate its international behavior [3]:

Iran seems as interested as ever in becoming a regional hegemon, on its own terms. And its supreme leader, and his closest confidants, have made it clear, over [4] and over [5] again, that he is not interested in normalizing relations with the United States.

Those who have followed this space over the past several years will not be shocked or even surprised at these revelations, but the fact that four authoritative analysts–and Tony Badran [6] of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies should be added to the list of clear-eyed observers — have all concluded that Obama has been in thrall to Iran for several years now, with frightening consequences for our national interest, is news.  And there are others:  Eli Lake at Bloomberg [7] and Kyle Orton on his own blog [8], for example, are two of the best.

All of these have done outstanding work, and it’s encouraging that they have all come to agree with my essays over the past several years, going back to the earliest days of the Obama administration.  It’s worth dwelling on this point, as Michael Doran of Mosaic, for example, has still not accepted it.  He thinks that the secret American talks with Iran revolve around the 2012 elections, which gave Obama greater freedom in pursuing his Iranian scheme.  But that is wrong.  The secret talks began in 2008, before Obama was even elected, and the back channel, as I was the first to reveal, was retired U.S. Ambassador William Miller, who confirmed the story to me and others.

In other words, Obama entered the White House with the intention of forging an alliance with our most dangerous enemy in the Middle East.  That fact has to be the baseline of any serious analysis of our government’s policies.

Which takes us straightaway to the great unanswered question:  Why does the president want this alliance?

I don’t know the answer.  I suspect there is no single answer, but many components.  No doubt one component is Obama’s well-documented conviction that American misbehavior is responsible for many, if not most, of the world’s problems.  He probably believes the myths about the 1953 events that restored the shah to power in Tehran.  He may well share at least some elements of the Iranian regime’s hatred of past American actions.

But those fairly widespread, basically secular, and quintessentially leftist convictions don’t get us there.  They don’t begin to explain the president’s passion to embrace the Islamic Republic, the world’s biggest killer of Americans, a regime that slaughters and imprisons and tortures its own citizens in record numbers, especially in light of its consistently anti-American behavior throughout the Obama years.

The president is apparently immovable on this matter, regardless of advice from his own people, from our military leaders, and from allies.  Doran elegantly sums up Obama’s Syria policy:

Clearly, the president viewed the anti-Assad movement in Syria just as he had viewed the Green Movement in Iran three years earlier: as an impediment to realizing the strategic priority of guiding Iran to the path of success. Was the Middle East in fact polarized between the Iranian-led alliance and just about everyone else? Yes. Were all traditional allies of the United States calling for him to stand up to Iran? Yes. Did the principal members of his National Security Council recommend as one that the United States heed the call of the allies? Again, yes. But Obama’s eyes were still locked on the main prize: the grand bargain with Tehran.

What is the reason for such relentless pigheadedness?  Most all his people were on the other side, he wasn’t getting any diplomatic cooperation from Zarif and Rouhani, American hostages were suffering in Iranian captivity, yet the president pursued his dream.

Past American sins aren’t nearly good enough.  It seems to me there must be something about Iran itself that draws him into the web of the mullahs.  Perhaps if we knew more about his life it would at least provide a clue.  Did he have a Persian lover?  Did one of his professors glorify Shi’ism?  I haven’t seen a trace of helpful evidence.

I don’t believe the theory that he’s a closet Muslim.  For this “explanation” to work, he’d have to be a closeted Twelver Shi’a, and there’s no good reason to believe that.

Other theories point to Valerie Jarrett, who was born in Iran.  Perhaps the dream comes from her?  She’s the president’s closest adviser, after all, and she’s a central player in the secret talks.  But we know a lot about her, and what we know paints a convincing picture of an American pol, an Obama friend and loyalist, a friend of Michelle, and a practitioner par excellence of Chicago School Politics.  Not a lover of the world’s leading sponsor of terror.

None of his many interviewers has pressed Obama on this central question, nor have our congressional bigwigs seen fit to investigate it.  Maybe that will change, as the media mood evolves toward bafflement and criticism.  It seems to me that we are entitled to know a lot more about the secret talks, and about the White House guidance under which the talks have been conducted.  I am still baffled that Congress has not demanded the text of the current agreement with Iran on the nuclear matter, and I am frustrated that no leading journalist has the slightest interest in the hostage question, which may well be linked to Obama’s dream (maybe he doesn’t want to escalate pressure for hostage releases because he doesn’t want trouble from Khamenei).

I do know that it’s a very big question, and I wish we knew the answer.  It’s urgent.

Bibigate – The Contretemps over Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress on Iran’s Nuclear Program

US House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Washington Times File Photo  5-24-2011

US House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
Washington Times File Photo 5-24-2011

NER, by Jerry Gordon, Feb. 2, 2015:

Last Saturday night a retired US Navy officer said “I’ll bet you even money that Bibi will withdraw from the proposed speech before a joint session of Congress”. I joshed him and said “I wouldn’t count on it.”

Sunday, I   received suggestions that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should have a Plan B given the rising contretemps in the media over US House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to talk about Iran before a Joint Session of Congress. There  was a welter of criticism from the White House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and mainstream media talking heads  included David Brooks of the New York Times and  Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith of  FoxNews.  They were admonishing Speaker Boehner and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer with terms like “dicey, wicked more for photo op” and “partisan politics” and “unwise for Israel.”  It was ostensibly about the lack of courtesy shown the President by not giving prior notice to the White House of the invitation extended to Netanyahu.  There was pique by certain unnamed senior officials in the White House over what some might call Bibigate.

However, let us remember there was increasing  bi-partisan support for new Iran nuclear sanctions legislation  despite  the President’s warning that he would veto it if it was passed. New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez was particularly incensed at the President for his questioning his motivations.  Menendez said: “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with the original sin.”  Lest, we forget, the President had threatened a veto if increased Iran legislation passed.  It was abundantly clear in the January 16th Joint Press Conference at the White House when the President Obama agreed with  UK PM David Cameron’s remarks, urging Senators on Capitol Hill not to take up new sanctions legislation at a “sensitive time”. Thus, one could speculate that Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu on January 21st to speak to a Joint Session of Congress in early March was a rebuttal to the President.

The rancor over Bibigate was visible in the final week of January into February.  Wednesday, January 28th,CNN released a clip of Fareed Zakaria’s February 1st GPS interview with President Obama.  Obama suggested that a visit with Netanyahu was “inappropriate,” as it was too close to the upcoming March Knesset elections.  The President said, “I’m declining to meet with him simply because our general policy is, we don’t meet with any world leader two weeks before their election, [I] think that’s inappropriate. And that’s true with some of our closest allies.”  Those comments engendered another rebuttal that the White House may have been giving tacit support to the involvement of Presidential Campaign aide Jim Byrd in advising the Labor-Hanuat opposition to Netanyahu in the Knesset general elections.

Friday, January 30th, Jeffrey Goldberg published an interview in The Atlantic with Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, a former US Republican strategist and member of the Netanyahu’s inner circle.   Dermer discussed the background for Boehner’s issuance of the invitation to Netanyahu to speak to Congress on Iran. Dermer suggested that while the Prime Minister “meant no disrespect towards President Obama … Netanyahu must speak up while there is still time to speak up”.

That led Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson on the blog Legal Insurrection to opine that Obama’s not offended; he just wants Bibi out of office.

The Hill round up on the Sunday Talk shows had comments from Rep. Paul Ryan on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Arizona Senator John McCain on CNN’s “State of The Union.”  Over the issue of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu Ryan said,” The Invitation to Israeli prime minister was ‘absolutely’ appropriate. I don’t know if I would say it’s antagonizing”.  McCain drew attention to the new low in US Israel relations under Obama saying, “It’s the worst that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”

Virtually out of nowhere, Sunday, February 1st, commentary from an “Insight” blog post of the Israeli Institute for National Security Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University shed light on a bizarre theory of what was behind Bibigate.  The author of the INSS post, Zaki Shalom, suggested:

The backdrop for the Administration’s expressed dissatisfaction with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intention to present his position on negotiations with Iran to Congress, creating a rather transparent linkage between Israel’s positions on negotiations with Iran and sanctions, and U.S. willingness to assist in combating the Palestinian attempt to exert international legal and diplomatic pressure on Israel.

On Thursday, January 30, 2015, the Senate Banking Committee voted out a ‘softer’ version of the Kirk –Menendez Sanctions legislation by a vote of 18 to 4, including six Democrats.  As reported by The Hill, the legislation:

… Would impose sanctions on Iran if a comprehensive agreement to roll back its nuclear program is not reached by June 30 and would allow the president to waive sanctions indefinitely for 30 days at a time.

However, the bill would be shelved until March 24th for a possible floor vote.  Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “All of us understand it’s not going to be voted on before March 24”. While the measure may portend a possible override vote should President Obama veto it that still requires Senator Menendez to keep the group of 17 Democratic Senators who support this version of sanctions legislation in the bi-partisan alliance.

Israeli concern over a weak final agreement by March 24th  is reflected  in a  Times of Israel report published  Sunday, February 1st,” US sources deride Israeli ‘nonsense’ on Obama giving in to Iran.”  Israeli  sources contend that Iran is likely to get 80 % of what it is seeking- the ability to continue enrichment with  upwards of 9,000 centrifuges, especially the advanced IR-2s. The Israelis believe that would give Iran nuclear breakout within weeks.  Add to that mix Iran flaunting pictures in a ToA  report of a Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) capable of covering all of Europe. That is to be followed in 2015 to 2016 by one cap ICBM range. Of course there a number of us who believe that Iran may already have purchased nuclear weapons from rogue regimes, but may lack nuclear warheads, which are likely to be supplied by North Korea to be mounted on those ICBMs.

Especially as the President observed, there is less than a 50/50 chance of reaching an agreement. Then assuming the current polls are correct and Bibi retains the ability to form a new Knesset coalition after the March 17th election, he may speak with both authority and strength.

As a  usual astute observer of Israel from Europe, Imre Herzog, opined when I wrote him on my side bet “you might win the bet”.

Also see:

“Change” and “hope”, where have we heard that before?

Leftist Israeli group V-15 seeks ‘change’….’hope’….for new elections

Published on Feb 2, 2015 by Kenneth Sikorski

Bwhahahahahaha

”Insight to Israel / Hershey’s for Heroes Tel Aviv, in front of the National Press Office as the Likud party is about to hold a press conference after filing a legal complaint against outside groups (V-15) and money that are seeking to alter the outcome of the March elections with the narrative, said and unsaid, “Anyone but Bibi”.”

Jordan’s King Finds Fault With Everyone Concerned

King Abdullah II of Jordan during a state visit to Russia in February, when he met with President Vladimir V. Putin. (Pool photo by Sergei Ilnitsky)

King Abdullah II of Jordan during a state visit to Russia in February, when he met with President Vladimir V. Putin. (Pool photo by Sergei Ilnitsky)

By :

CAIRO — King Abdullah II of Jordan leads one of the smallest, poorest and most vulnerable Arab nations. But that does not stop him from looking down on many of those around him, including the leaders of Egypt, Turkey and Syria, as well as members of his own royal family, his secret police, his traditional tribal political base, his Islamist opponents and even United States diplomats.

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has “no depth,” King Abdullah said in an interview with the American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, to be published this week in The Atlantic magazine. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is an authoritarian who views democracy as a “bus ride,” as in, “Once I get to my stop, I am getting off,” the king said.

And he said President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is so provincial that at a social dinner he once asked the monarchs of Jordan and Morocco to explain jet lag. “He never heard of jet lag,” King Abdullah said, according to an advance copy of the article.

The king’s conversations with Mr. Goldberg, an influential writer on the Middle East and an acquaintance of more than a decade, offer a rare view of the contradictory mind-set of Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world as he struggles to master the upheaval of the Arab Spring revolts. Seldom has an Arab autocrat spoken so candidly in public.

King Abdullah appears humbled and even fatigued by the many challenges he failed to foresee when he inherited the throne 14 years ago, describing himself before coronation as a “Forrest Gump” in the background of his father’s long reign. In contrast to his father, King Hussein, King Abdullah promises to move Jordan closer to a British-style constitutional monarchy, and thus to stay ahead of the Arab Spring wave.

Read more at NYT

Jeffrey Golberg talks to Jake Tapper about his interview with King Abdullah:

 

Palestinian President Abbas Praises Dead Terrorists As ‘Martyrs’

 Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority

IPT:

by John Rossomando